Thursday, August 21, 2014

*Gizmos Book Reviews* Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles #1) by Lenore Appelhans


In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost-family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian-a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life-comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

*My Review*

In the first installment of The Memory Chronicles, Level 2 introduces readers to the main protagonist Felicia Ward, and a whole new idea of what happens once you leave your mortal coil behind. If you are someone who is truly religious, you believe that there is a heaven, and a hell. But, what if there was something else?

"Think of this place as a waiting room. Earth, what we call Level One, is about creating and forming memories. And this waiting room, Level Two, is about processing those memories, sifting through them to find the meaning of your time on earth. To come to terms with it so you can move on."

Felicia, who presumably died before her 18th birthday, has found herself in a reality known as Level 2 which is located between our world and the next. She lives in a hive-like environment and is drugged to keep her compliant. Felicia relives memories of her time on Earth, while searching for a way to reunite with Neil Corbet, her boyfriend at the time of her death.

I will say at this point, that Neil's participation is mostly in the form of Felicia memories of him, and not present tense. I will also say that Neil is made out to be a person who is a major do-gooder. He sings in a church choir, he never kicks puppies around, hasn't cheated on anyone, or defaced property, and has signed a pledge to remain a virgin until marriage. Yeah, I dare you to find another male character in the YA genre that has gone this far into the light.

It isn't until the arrival of the mysterious Julian, who twisted Felicia's life and fate into several different directions while she was alive, that things really pick up. After agreeing to join the rebellion, and learning what Level 2 is really being used for, Felicia realizes that she's become a pawn in an even bigger game being played by different Angel factions.

Julian is a distressing character to follow at times, but I will admit that he was absolutely more entertaining than Neil. Even if you really have no idea if he is reliable, or working for the bad guys in order to lure Felicia to their side, he still pushes the right buttons and has a connection to Felicia in ways that Neil will never have. Since I loathe the idea of 3 way love triangles, and was happy to say that Julian would have been my choice no matter what.

Level 2's memory system is an interesting concept not unlike YouTube. You can share your experiences with others, and they can then rate the experiences. Then you have the memory aspects of the story itself. Readers find themselves looking at Felicia's checkered past, and I'll have to say that I wasn't at all impressed with her actions except while she was with Neil. One of the more interesting facts is that you can't access memories formed outside of your life line. No journeys into the past, or future.

The biggest question for me while reading Level 2, was if I could actually trust what I was being told by Felicia, or are the memories being created by someone else? Can you actually feel for a character like Felicia who makes some really terrible choices, gets separated from her parents, and best friend, and loses nearly everything in the process?

My most enjoyable aspect of this story was the world building that Appelhan's creates. It is multi-tiered and expansive and would fit nicely in the dystopian genre. The beginning of the story is probably the weakest part of the story, while the second half is the more enjoyable. While I liked Felicia as a character overall, often times I found myself mumbling. Let's hope she grows as a character in Chasing Before.

Next up: Chasing Before (The Memory Chronicles #2) which releases August 26, 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Author - Lenore Appelhans
Title - Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles # 1)
Published by Simon &Schuster Books For Young Readers
Released: January 15, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format: Library book 281 pages

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